Western Washington is not considered a place to find morels, so I was surprised 3 years ago to find a few growing in our backyard, right against the house. They were huge and healthy, so I battered and fried them and served them to my family. Anouk loved them until Mike came home and said they were disgusting. She has refused to take a bite ever since.
Last year, they popped up in the gravel in our front yard, not far from the front door. There were about 100, all healthy, modestly sized. I gave most of them away.
This year, I was disappointed that I didn't see morels in the gravel again in April. I searched for any signs of baby morels popping up, and finally gave up on it. And one day, Mike noticed a couple between the rocks in our perennial garden. We started looking around and realized there were close to 100 right in nearby garden beds. Over the weeks, we kept finding more, with most of them growing right outside my kitchen door. One day, I was so astonished by the numbers, I counted how many were growing in about a 4' x 3' bed, and there were 133! I'm sure there have been hundreds by now, all over the garden.
I've been giving the morels away to people who will appreciate them - bags full. Still, I find that they have been waning and getting sort of dry on top. When the weather turned warm and sunny, I worried that they would all shrivel up, so I harvested pounds of them last Friday. Following directions I found online, I strung them on thread with a needle and hung them to dry.
Speaking of cooking morels, I found this recipe online, which I think I will try:
- 1/2 pound of fresh morels
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt & pepper to taste
4 cups of chicken stock (degreased if home made)
4 egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
I am baffled by the way our morels have migrated to entirely different parts of the yard, and hope they will return next spring. I am careful to cut them, rather than pull out the stem. When I soak them, I pour the water back into the garden beds, hoping any spores will reproduce. Apparently, it takes 5 years for new morels to grow, so it's possible I'll see them return to the other areas in the future. I welcome any advice from readers about propagating and cooking morels.